The autism consultant tells us that we need to use visual schedules to break down tasks into smaller more manageable steps. Eager to do anything and everything to improve life for the child and ourselves, we log on to the computer and launch into the creative flurry of making visual symbols and pictures for schedules and supports. Sometimes, we get so excited about finally knowing what to do that we forget the 10 binders full of pictures from the last creative burst!
Step away from the computer…think first…
Visual schedules are an awesome tool to use for expectations or situations that repeatedly cause problems. If you find yourself constantly needing to explain, coax or threaten a child with autism to wash his hands, hand in homework, put items away, move to the table when asked, then, a visual schedule may just be the answer.
If the child performs a task in one place but not another, it may save your sanity to make and repeatedly review a homemade picture book of all of the places he or she would do that task. Imagine taking pictures of all kinds of sinks: washrooms at the mall, in a restaurant, at school, at home, at Grandma’s…you get the idea. Hey, why not make it a ‘photo op’ and snap pics of the individual washing her hands at all kinds of places. Put the pics in a small photo album and VOILA…you have a perfect preview/priming tool where you used to have an occasion for nagging and friction!
Avoid becoming a visual schedule overachiever! Visual tools, checklists and schedules need to be prepared when we see a need arising or when we can anticipate a rough transition. Each tool needs to be so individualized for a child that making them in bulk and for every occasion is a waste of time, materials and energy. At the same time, trying to use visuals for every facet of life is a fast train to insanity.
Allow the child and your instincts to lead you…
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